When I was a kid, I wished for a teacher like this; and if I had kids, I’d hope they might have this kind of teacher.
Omar Currie is, or was, a third grade teacher at Efland Cheeks Elementary School in Orange County, North Carolina. I say ‘was’ because Currie resigned this week in protest over the new rules put in place by the school after a parent complained that Omar had read the book King & King to his class.
Uh oh; King & King. Sounds gay to me, and that’s the problem. But let’s backtrack to why Omar Currie was reading a ‘gay’ book — and that’s me being funny because books, and shoes, and shirts and haircuts are not gay —t o his class: bullying.
Currie, who is gay, decided to read the book after an incident where several boys began bullying another student for acting “feminine” and “gay.” And so Currie read King & King, a fairy tale about a prince who is expected to marry a princess and live happily ever after, but instead falls in love with another prince.
And that that didn’t sit well with at least one parent because gay, and so this parent accused Currie of "infiltrating young minds, indoctrinating children into a gay agenda and actively promoting homosexuality to steer our children in that direction." This parent is one of those “You can turn people gay” parents who is so ignorant and so stupid and so bigoted and so narrow-minded, that I’d like to see their child removed from their home and placed with parents who have brains that fire on more than one cylinder.
But, that’s me, and, according to school policy, that ignorant complaint required a review committee to hold a public meeting where roughly 75% of the crowd came out to support Omar Currie. One parent — whose brain fully functions—is Kim Grooms, who said children should be exposed to a variety of cultures, "and it is disappointing that this teacher does not feel supported."
Another speaker, Tyla Olson, pointed out that gay people — even a couple of Princes in a book — can legally marry in North Carolina:
"We cannot shelter our children from same-sex marriage. We should allow diversity to be taught in our school. Teach peace and acceptance."
But there was that other 25% who were adamantly opposed to gay fairy tales in schools. Lisa Baptist, a grandmother, is worried children might try what they saw in the book:
"I've been called a racist. I’ve been called a bigot, and I am none of those things. This is nothing more than bringing homosexuality into a school where it does not belong."
First off, Lisa, you’re a grandmother, not a parent, so sit down and knit. Secondly, homosexuality belongs everywhere because it is everywhere and when you hide something you make it seem shameful; it’s not.
Shelby Tyson, who calls herself a Christian, says she appreciates Currie’s love of teaching, just not anything gay because …
“We’ve known there are homosexual teachers in this school for years. It doesn’t bother us. I do not believe relationships as described in this book are biblically sound. Our children are still very young and emotionally immature. I do not believe they need to be educated on finding a soul mate ... between two men, two women or a man and a woman."
First off, this isn’t Bible school, honey, so keep your religion outta the discussion. And don’t say you support “homosexual” teachers, but not homosexual couples or homosexual pronces in a book.
But we’ll save the worst, for last, and that is one Rodney Davis, who carried a sign outside the school that read, “Mr. Currie read the book ‘King & King’ (homosexual relationships) without parents nor school’s permission" and used his three minutes to rant angrily:
"What gives you the right to tell me what they can listen to and what they can hear in our school? That’s bullying."
School district official, Seth Stephens, repeatedly told Davis to focus on the book and not Currie, and when Davis refused because, well, gay, he was ejected from the meeting.
The good news? In the end, school officials sided with Omar; they did not censure him or sanction him, or even remove King & King from the list of permissible reading material. But, what they did do was institute new rules that require teachers to notify parents of any book they plan to use in class and to give parents the option of removing their child from class whenever a book they object to is read.
Omar Currie objected to the new policy, saying he was “disappointed” over the school’s lack of support:
"This egregious policy creates an undue burden on teachers, and it hurts students. The district must understand silence is poison. I repeatedly heard from school officials that the book might have been appropriate to read in a more progressive area without parental consent, but in Efland we need time. These comments were made as if to persuade me that today is not the time to stand up and protect students ... but that change on all issues must come about slowly, even if the safety of my students is compromised."
Omar then resigned, though he is now looking for another school, in a more progressive area, to keep on teaching, and I hope he does.
Children need to learn about all kinds of people, and reading a story about two princes doesn’t make children gay; hearing about gay people doesn’t change your orientation, seeing gay people won’t make you switch teams. Hell, if that were the case, all those years I spent reading stories and fairy tales should have made me straight.
And hopefully Omar Currie will be able to continue teaching that; and teaching kids not to bully … like some of those parents at that school.